This year, Arctic sea ice melting broke yet another record. For the first time ever, the strongest ice in the region broke apart. Until now, the sea ice would stay frozen all through summer.
While rapidly melting ice could accelerate the pace at which the world is warming, this isn’t the only major effect melting sea ice will have. Because the Arctic is believed to have $35 trillion worth of natural gas and oil reserves under the ice. That’s almost as much as 2000 of the world’s largest companies spread across 58 countries earn annually. The region may also have major gold, silver and diamond reserves.
And once the ice melts, trade routes through the Arctic will make it easier to transport goods. New trade routes could shave of 30-40% of existing trade route distance, which would save companies time and money.
Many Arctic nations want don’t want to miss out. They’re competing to stake their claims on the region.
Under Barack Obama’s presidency, the US had banned oil and gas leasing in the Arctic. But Donald Trump’s administration repealed the ban shortly after Trump took office.
Russia has the largest military in the region, and has already opened its first oil field. The nation has the more ice-breaking ships than any other country. Russia has 41 ice-breakers with more being made, while the US only has two.
Norway is investing in developing oil and natural gas reserves, even though the nation has divested its sovereign fund from fossil fuels.
Sweden is encouraging development done in an environmentally friendly way.
Even non-Arctic nations, like China, are eying the region by investing in developing projects.
But this would all come at a cost. Because ramping up activity in the Arctic would speed up the rate at which ice melts. And scientists already warn that the world can’t afford to find and burn more fossil fuels.